Arlington election officials will work on developing a permanent policy regarding the use of electronic meetings in a post-COVID world, but expect to be meeting in person much of the time, as well.
“It’s important to have a policy, but I am also in favor of in-person meetings if they can be done safely,” said Electoral Board Chairman Charlene Bickford.
The Electoral Board was actually in the midst of conducting a meeting in March when the county government began battening the hatches and closing facilities while the COVID crisis was taking hold. Its meetings since then have been conducted on an electronic platform.
There is a plus side to that. “Attendance has certainly increased – it has more than tripled,” county elections chief Gretchen Reinemeyer said.
State law will guide how much business can be transacted online once the state of emergency declared by Gov. Northam in the spring is rescinded. In informal discussions among the three board members, it seemed that a happy medium was being sought.
“My preference is a blend” of formats, said the board’s vice chairman, Matt Weinstein.
While meetings are conducted electronically, at least some of the staff of the elections office has been on hand in the office throughout the pandemic, in order to assist the public and process ballot applications and the ballots themselves in a secure environment.
“We have not shut down our offices this entire year,” Reinemeyer said.
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